• Dan Summerell

"Are you ready for this?" - 2020

If I have any advice for you, it’s to not make any big decisions yet.

A good friend spoke these words to me earlier this year when we were in our first lockdown whilst discussing what's next in our careers. Gathered in front of our devices for a Friday night Google Meet, we spoke about how exhausting remote learning was for us and in particular, how, as leaders in varying positions in schools, we felt under an increased amount of pressure. Pressure to help our peers and students find some normality in the situation. Pressure to change everything at the drop of a hat and make things work well. Pressure to make sure everyone else was OK. Pressure to get things done and do it with a smile on our face. It's certainly been a big year.

2020 threw us a curve ball. Everyone. It threw humanity a curve ball and we’ve all been through the ringer as a result. I don’t know one person, in any industry, that hasn’t been affected by the job losses, remote work, home learning, varying stages of lockdowns (multiple times for some), loneliness, depression, anxiety or burnout. Everyone has suffered.

I started this year full of gusto. I began developing my first podcast and lined up a plethora of amazing educators to join me in conversations intended to inspire. It was pretty exciting and I learnt a lot about sound production, social media advertising, interviewing and research. I managed to record 18 episodes in a short amount of time and with all good intentions, to release them weekly. I planned my entire year around my podcast schedule and made sure I would get breaks for my studies and other priorities. I was determined to have a productive, fulfilling year and not end up burned out. It was envigorating and I was loving it.

What happened then? Lockdown number one happened. Remote teaching and learning happened. Plans dramatically changed. Stress levels went up, things in the pipeline were postponed or cancelled. Lockdown two happened (and went for much, much longer than the first) and created many more stresses. Subsequently, the one thing I was actively trying to avoid happened; I found myself burned out. I had no energy left to pursue anything for myself. My podcast stopped dead in its tracks with one episode left unreleased because I just simply could not find the motivation to sit down and edit it. The one thing I loved doing this year felt like a huge brick hanging from my leg pulling me under water.

With my head still spinning from all that has happened this year I am left wondering where my next burst of energy will come from and when it will kick in. I am left pondering how much longer this pandemic is going to stick around.

I imagine normality but question what that even is anymore. Has our normal changed? What does a new normal look like?

One thing that I can say for certain is that this year has really made me value the great connections I have. Family, friends, work colleagues and my online professional learning network. I am surrounded by people who care. We have all been through so much and I believe that we have all begun a healing journey and there can only be good things to come. I think it's clear that we are all taking baby steps to find our feet again and motivation and excitement will return.

So, what happened to the unreleased episode of my podcast? Well, it’s been sitting safely on my computer, un-edited since early this year. Angela Norman was my guest for this one and she spoke about creating a strong program of induction and professional learning to support innovation. It's a brilliant conversation that I am excited to now share. I had previously reached out to Angela to explain the absence of its release and I am so thankful for her patience and understanding. To check it out, go to ponderingdan.podbean.com.

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